My sports teams

Last year, in response to a post on Will Leach’s newsletter, I created my list of the sports teams I root for–in the order of my fan intensity. This is getting easier to do as I grow older, as I have become that kind of fan I loathed as a kid. The kind of fan that doesn’t watch every game.  The kind of fan that just checks the scores and makes a mental note of how the team is doing.

The internet makes this quasi-fandom very easy: game recaps are highlighted on Facebook and Twitter. You can be totally informed about your team’s performance almost instantaneously.

So, to update . . . my sports allegiances (in order) are as follows:

1. Boston Red Sox 

2. Syracuse U. basketball

These two teams dominate my sports world. They are truly the only two teams whose success really matters to me. I watch their games, read about results and ponder rosters, game strategy and upcoming games. Both are also incredibly successful and most often in contention for playoff spots and championships. Both teams are also intimately tied to memories of my father, the person who introduced me to sports and whose passing made my fandom of these teams more poignant.

My dad took me to games at Fenway Park when we visited my grandmother during summer vacations at her home on Cape Cod. I remember the upstart Sox getting to the 1967 World Series, convinced that buying their yearbook earlier in the summer at a small Cape grocery led to their success. I grew up a Red Sox fan in the middle of Yankee country–teased and taunted by my classmates. I earned my residency in Red Sox Nation.

I pestered my dad for a couple of years to get season tickets to basketball games at the old Manley Field House–he didn’t really like basketball, he was a football, baseball and hockey fan. But I finally wore him down. And when S.U. basketball lost the 1987 NCAA basketball tournament on a last second shot by Indiana, it was my father who grabbed several glasses off the table and hurled them into the fireplace, shattered glass flying everywhere!

3. Syracuse U. lacrosse

4. Syracuse U. football

The hometown team. I also have memories of watching these games with my dad. I saw lacrosse and football with him way back in the day–when lacrosse was played on a small field with no stands next to the pre-renovation Manley Field House and football was in the ancient outdoor Archibald Stadium.

My parents, proud S.U. alums, had season football tickets–but I only got to go when it was bad weather and my mom didn’t want to freeze! They brought a handsaw to the final game at Archbold and I now have possession of the wooden seats they sat on at the games.

5. U. Of Pennsylvania basketball

6. U. of Pennsylvania football

I am the proud alum here. My freshman year (78-79) Penn went to the NCAA Final Four and I piled into a beat up Impala with four other friends and we drove for 42 straight hours to Salt Lake City for the games. We lost by 34 points in the semi-finals to Michigan State and since they still had the consolation games we played Depaul and lost by 3 points. I did get to see the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird championship though. Home games in the Palestra, one of America’s great arenas, were a blast. Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!

7. New York Knicks

I was a little kid, and I idolized Walt “Clyde” Frazier. The classic Knicks teams of that era won the NBA Finals in 1970 and 1973. They came within a last second John Starks shot (blocked by Hakeem Olajuwon) in Game 6 of the 1994 of winning another. It’s been a long drought–filled with terrible owners, worse general managers and sometimes befuddled coaches. But hope springs eternal and the new wind of change is encouraging.

8. U. of South Carolina football

I spent about a nanosecond at law school in Columbia, S.C. in 1983–but long enough to soak up an admiration for the at times struggling football team. I was in school and at the game when the new East upper deck seats of Williams Brice stadium were bouncing along with the fans getting down to the song “Louie Louie” being played during a time out. That led to the famous quote by Coach Joe Morrison (rest in peace) “If it ain’t swayin’. we ain’t playin'” U.S.C. has moved into the SEC and has had some success in the past decade. (oh, I learned to hate Clemson too! Serves me well now that S.U. football [see #4 above] plays in the A.C.C.)

9. Boston Bruins

I loved the old Bobby Orr teams (and my grandma once gave me a black Bruins logo notebook for Christmas) but that’s about the extent of my fandom. But if they get into the Stanley Cup playoffs–I startt to again pay attention. In fact, I will sort of root for 5 of the original 6 franchises of the NHL (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and New York.) As long as any of them beat the Montreal Canadiens.  My least favorite teams of all time really only numbers three: N. Y. Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and the Canadiens.

10. N.Y. Giants

The Giants have fallen to the bottom rungs of my fandom list for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve watched them win the Super Bowl four times–once in each of the past four decades. There is no urgency left in my fandom. Secondly, because of my concern over the NFL’s shoddy treatment of past and current players regarding traumatic brain injuriesand theleague owners’ blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick because he protests police shootings of unarmed African Americans rankles me as well. So now, the only NFL I watch is the HBO series Hard Knocks, the NFL Films treatment of one team during training camp. If the Giants make the Super Bowl I will probably watch–but otherwise I will not waste my time.

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Nothing About Us, Without Us–Even If We’re the Victim Of A Purge

voter-wheelchair

The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute was a terrible setback to people with disabilities and our efforts to make sure that the disability community’s right to vote is protected. The Supreme Court’s support for the state of Ohio’s method of purging voters from its rolls hurts many minority, low income and marginalized communities in Ohio—and threatens the ability of people to exercise their right to vote throughout our country.

The Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s program of purging voters from its rolls if they haven’t voted in two consecutive elections and then do not respond to an inquiry postcard about their residence status.

Continue reading “Nothing About Us, Without Us–Even If We’re the Victim Of A Purge”

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

OK, they may be little more than bite-sized nuggets of pop philosophy.  The market may be dominated by a single company from Long Island–whose owner writes all the fortunes. Nonetheless, I believe in fortune cookie wisdom!

I used to love trying to pronounce the “Learn Chinese” phonetic word on the back–until the fortunes I get (because I almost always go to the same restaurant) decided to put an ad for additional fortunes on the back. I don’t play the lottery–but I loved the fact that the Powerball Lottery investigated what they thought was fraud a few years ago, only to discover that a whole bunch of people got the same fortune cookie with the same lucky numbers on the back–and they all played them in the same order!

I believe so strongly in fortune cookie wisdom for a single fortune I received many years ago. I first met my wife when we both worked in the same insurance company office–and in fact, sat at adjacent desks. Friendly colleague banter led to stronger feelings on my part–but I was hesitant to be more forward.  Then I got the following fortune cookie:

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This led to our first date–and the rest is history. Fortune cookie wisdom, indeed.

 

 

Recuperation

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So, at my follow up appointment for my surgery, my doctor confirmed that I had been harboring renal cell carcinoma in a growth located on top of my left kidney. The solid mass growth was removed surgically and was caught early enough that the cancer had not spread to any of the kidney itself.

It is the best possible outcome for this surgery. The cancer was contained and excised. Yearly scans of the area is the extent of my follow up treatment. The hard part of all this has been recovering from the trauma of being sliced open. Like the truck above, my life has been flipped upside down.

Continue reading “Recuperation”

I Think It’s Going To Work Out Fine

 

One of the best things about growing older is the sense of acceptance that you (hopefully) grow into. The concept of “don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” makes a whole lot more sense to me in my fifties than it did in my twenties.

Yes, I’m still anxious a lot of the time and get upset, but it has become more of a habit to fume for a bit and then move on. I don’t have to hang around to be on the post-game show, complete with the endless replays and the requisite self-recriminations. I’m beginning to gain perspective.

My newfound sense of acceptance has also brought me an additional benefit. By acknowledging that my lymphedema and tendency to form blood clots are disabilities, I have been given the great privilege of becoming an active member of the disability rights movement. I am no longer a hired-gun organizer looking in from the outside, nor do I have to intellectualize my commitment to social change. I am working with my peers to improve our lives.

Unfortunately, I have recently learned that I am a bit more embedded in the disability community than I originally thought. You can now add cancer patient to my resume.

I buried the lede a bit because it’s not like I’m in mortal danger. Half the people my age develop growths, mine is attached to my kidney. Eighty percent of these types of growths are mainly liquid and require nothing more than occasional monitoring of their size. I am in the other twenty percent category–a solid mass that more than likely is cancerous and must be removed surgically. During the procedure, called a partial renal nephrectomy, They also take away a portion of the kidney where the growth was attached.

Once this is done–currently scheduled for April–I will be fine. Yeah, I’m a bit freaked out by the whole deal, but the bottom line is that I will be fine.

BTW: isn’t Solid Mass a great rock band name?

 

On Conflict

Shel_Trapp

“The organizer’s job is not to create conflict, but to expose the conflict that already exists. Conflict exists any time a landlord fails to maintain his property but collects rent, any place where children pass a drug house on the way to school and on and on. When this conflict is exposed it creates a new situation, because it requires that the parties in conflict sit down to figure out a way to resolve the problem. The old rules don’t apply anymore. When conflict isn’t exposed, those in power continue their behavior. They are comfortable and no one’s complaining, so they keep treating the rest of us like crap.”

–Shel Trapp

“Dynamics of Organizing: Building Power by Developing the Human Spirit”

“Still The One” Took My Breath Away

 

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Mary Ann Zeppetello, longtime CNY activist who asked the question “when are we going to recognize those women activists older than dirt?” that led to this exhibition.

Saturday was opening night of the exhibit entitled “Still The One” by the photographer Douglas Lloyd at ArtRage Gallery, and it was standing room only.  At least 200 folks jammed into the one big room of the gallery, noshing on pastry and finger foods, sipping wine and chatting while looking at the pictures and mingling with many of the subjects of the photos.

I am not generally a patron of the fine arts. However, this exhibit was special– a tribute to the activism and life work of twenty-six women, all over the age of 80. These women define exactly what it means to have commitment, dedication and love for our community and its people.

Continue reading ““Still The One” Took My Breath Away”